Spring usage of Javon Bullard, Jalon Walker could be telling for Georgia football defense
For those two defenders though, the more interesting question is rather what position are they playing as opposed to if they’ll be impact defenders.
Walker spent much of last season as an inside linebacker. Georgia sees him as an inside linebacker moving forward. But Walker got on the field as an edge rusher a season ago. And with the various departures and injuries at the position, his best path to the field is at the outside linebacker position.
Related: Jalon Walker is the most interesting player on Georgia football’s 2023 defense
Georgia returns starting inside linebackers Smael Mondon and Jamon Dumas-Johnson. There are also veterans Rian Davis and Xavian Sorey on the roster. At outside linebacker, Georgia must replace Nolan Smith and Robert Beal. Sophomore Marvin Jones Jr. will also miss spring practice due to a shoulder injury.
Only junior Chaz Chambliss has real experience at the position for Georgia. Spring practice will be critical for getting younger players such as Darris Smith, Damon Wilson and Samuel M’Pemba reps. If Georgia elects to give more reps to Walker at outside linebacker, it could be a further sign that Georgia intends to employ him in a bigger role at the position come the fall.
Bullard’s situation is somewhat the opposite of Walker’s. We know Bullard is an excellent option at the star position, as he proved last season. But someone needs to replace Chris Smith and Bullard has the ability to do so at the safety position.
The Bulldogs have a handful of known options in the secondary in Dan Jackson, Tykee Smith and David Daniel-Sisavanh. Add in newcomers Joenel Aguerro and Smoke Bouie and Georgia is in a position to get at creative with what it does at the star and safety positions.
Maybe co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp tries Bullard at safety, putting Smith and Bouie in the conversation for the starting star spot. Or perhaps Georgia wants to see what Aguerro or Daniel-Sisavanh can do at the position as well. Georgia cross-trains across the secondary, meaning players will be comfortable taking reps at safety and star in the event of injury or poor play. Consider that in 2021, Georgia moved Chris Smith from safety to star to help cover up some issues in the back end.
The purpose of spring practice is to experiment and get better. There isn’t quite the same level of pressure or heat on players and teams. Georgia can afford to try and see what it has in Walker and Bullard at different positions.
And if those moves work out, it could pay serious dividends for Georgia come the fall.
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